I finished the first draft of the third Eye of Isis novel last week, and under strict instructions from the August writers in residence at Storyknife I am to take a week off. Relax. Take a walk on the beach. Drink a bottle of wine with friends. Read books instead of writing them.
When I reach that distant hilltop in a book, where the topography in every direction is revealed to me in every exquisitely detailed contour, when I know exactly who did what to whom when and, most importantly, why…by then the creative tick is burrowed so deeply into my flesh there is no stopping it from sucking every last drop of blood and attention I have for anything else.
So things have piled up, not only figuratively but literally. In my office notes for the rewrite have bred like rabbits and stuck themselves to the printer, the wall, the desk lamp (?), and, oh, look, the back of my laptop. So have the reference books, not just on the shelves but on my desk, on the spare chair, even on the floor. I have three atlases lying open, plus Herodotus. What’s that piece of paper with all those calculations scribbled on it? Oh right, I was figuring out how long it would take for the Nut to get from Alexandria to Memphis and then from Memphis to Syene, first in miles, then in leagues, then in days. I don’t need that anymore. Do I?
Possibly that Visa bill is due, or, gulp, past due. When was the last time I reconciled my bank account? How much is in my checking account, anyway? I look at my calendar through eyes bleary from staring at a screen for six months for upcoming events. Storyknife board meeting, it’s okay, Erin will send out a reminder and a zoom link. Housekeeper, no, not for another week, whew, because before she gets here I have to make time to scurry around and put things away before she puts them away for me and they are never found again. When was the last time I checked on the inexorable horsetail incursion #inmygarden? Also, what’s that smell coming from my refrigerator? That chicken thigh hasn’t been sitting in there for more than a month.
For some reason September nags at me. The cabin’s clean for when Cale and Lahela come down for their visit so no worries there. Is it a certain date, say the 2nd? VJ Day? I am not Jim Benn, so no. The 7th? National Salami Day? Uh-uh. The 15th? In India that’s World Engineers Day. ‘It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.’ I heart engineers so I love India for that alone. No, not the 15th. How about–
TAXES. TAXES, YOU FOOL. IT’S TIME TO PAY YOUR ESTIMATED QUARTERLY TAXES. DO YOU WANT THE IRS TO COME KNOCKING AT YOUR DOOR? DO YOU WANT TO HAVE TO PAY ANOTHER FINE FOR LATE PAYMENT??
I gallop sweatily over to EFTPS and set up a payment for September 15th, which, given that writers have little if any notion of when they’ll be paid or how much is probably my single most imaginative act of creative writing all year.
Whew. Avoided the federal pokey one more time.
#Thiswritinglife ain’t for sissies.
The second Eye of Isis novel, coming in January 2022.
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Author and founder of Storyknife.org.